“Paradiso” (Working Title)
“Paradiso” (working title)
by Glenn McClure
Libretto by Dante Alighieri
This piece is inspired first by my love for Dante’s writings, but more importantly for “Emancipation Again,” this piece responds to an exciting new area of Dante studies. The recent work of University of Pittsburgh professor Dennis Looney has uncovered the untold story of collaboration and dialogue between the US and the emerging nation of Italy in the mid 19th century. While our country was struggling to remain whole in the violence of the Civil War, Italy was struggling to unite many separate countries on the Italian peninsula into a single nation. We often forget that the modern nation of Italy is younger the US. Ironically, a country with thousands of years of history, reaching back before the Romans, was formed as nation in the 1860’s.
Leaders in the US and Italy shared resources and ideas in their respective struggles for unification. One of those texts to emerge our of this dialogue was Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise embodies many of the same questions of justice and personal growth that resonate with the American journey towards universal freedom.
Looney’s work inspired Dr. Ronald Herzman and Dr. Beth McCoy of SUNY Geneseo to launch a new class, “Dante and African American Literature.” I had the pleasure of joining this class last Fall. Every day brought new insights into the complex and subtle influences that Dante has had on our American imagination.
“Paradiso” (working title) is a musical exploration of Dante’s poetry that uses both African and African American gestures to frame his words. The music is an invitation for us to explore our American and global connections to this poem. This piece is scored for women’s choir and percussion.
This piece represents the next step of development in a larger musical setting of the Divine Comedy. I have already completed musical treatments of texts from Inferno and Purgatorio, so this completes this initial series with a movement from Paradiso.
“Paradiso” will be premiered in a joint performance by the SUNY Geneseo Spectrum Women’s Ensemble and the Concentus Women’s Ensemble. The piece will be scored for women’s choir and percussion.
SUNY Geneseo Spectrum Women’s Ensemble- dir. Dr. Gerard Floriano
Concentus Women’s Chorus-dir. Gwendolyn Hall Gassler